UC DAVIS (CBS13) — Can doctors help stop gun violence?
A local researcher says “yes.”
UC Davis Doctor Garen Wintemute leads gun violence research and believes medical professionals can play a role in ending gun violence. It was the topic of an article he wrote following the Las Vegas mass shooting, where he asks fellow doctors nationwide to commit to doing their part to end gun violence.
For 35 years, the emergency room doctor has worked to save lives threatened and often taken by gun violence.
Dr. Wintemute said, “If I, as a clinician, want to do the best I can to stop patients from dying from gunshot wounds, I have to keep them from getting shot in the first place.”
Also, the director of the UC Davis Violence Prevention Research Program, Dr. Wintemute has dedicated his career to reducing gun deaths. Following the latest mass shooting in Las Vegas, he published an article in a medical journal titled, “What you can do to stop firearm violence?” and he’s now calling on colleagues across the country to make a public commitment online.
“To ask their patients about firearms in the home and firearm safety when the circumstances warrant asking the question.”
The circumstances include high-risk situations when a patient is dealing with substance abuse, depression or is suicidal. Dr. Wintemute says physician’s need to ask about guns and then figure out the safest way to limit access. In some cases, Dr. Wintemute says patients agree they aren’t in the right state of mind to be around their firearms and will designate a family member to temporarily take their guns away. In more serious cases, a doctor can order a psychiatric evaluation, and at that point, California state law automatically prohibits a patient from possessing firearms and allows law enforcement step in.
So far, 160 physicians have taken the public pledge to make preventing gun deaths a priority, but many more are expected to sign on.
“What I expect to start hearing back is you know I asked the question, and it was really tough, but I saved a life today by asking about firearms in the home,” said Dr. Wintemute.